House Makabayan bloc wants Manila Bay declared ‘reclamation-free zone’
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the House Makabayan opposition bloc on Thursday filed a bill declaring the waters of Manila Bay Area as a “reclamation-free zone” on the heels of attempts to rehabilitate the area.
House Bill No. 9067 seeks to ban all forms of reclamation activities that would affect a part of or the entire Manila Bay area.
The Makabayan group is composed of Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
The lawmakers said reclamation activities are those that “seek to fill, cover or overlay the sea waters of the Manila Bay Area with soil, gravel, stones or other similar materials to create artificial land space beginning from the coast; or any activity that will construct artificial islands or floating structures, build overhang infrastructure above the sea waters or will result in the receding of the sea waters and the surfacing of the soil beneath the sea waters.”
Section 4 of the bill also seeks to revoke and disapprove all plans for reclamation projects pending with the office of the Philippine Reclamation Authority or any government agency or local government unit.
Violators will face the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six years but not more than 12 years and a fine between P5 million to P15 million.
If the offender is a public officer, he would also be dismissed from public service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
If the offender is a juridical entity, the highest ranking official and the members of its board of directors or trustees who authorized the violation would suffer the penalty imposed under the proposed law.
On December 12, 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced its plan to rehabilitate Manila Bay. In line with this, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said it would include the relocation of 300,000 informal settler families, living along the coastline of Manila Bay and in nearby areas.
Cimatu also announced the three-phase rehabilitation as the clean-up of esteros and the coastline of Manila Bay; public education on solid waste management; and sustained efforts to save Manila Bay from further environmental degradation. No master plan was however given.
Last Jan. 27, various government agencies, led by the DENR, kicked off its rehabilitation project for Manila Bay. /muf
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